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William Faulkner — LIGHT IN AUGUST They drove out to the scene of the fire and the murder. At steady, almost timed intervals Brown jerked his head up and back with that movement of a free mule running in front of a car in a narrow road. “What are we going out here for?” “To get your reward,” the deputy said. “Where am I going to get it?” “In that cabin yonder. It’s waiting for you there.” Brown looked about, at the blackened embers which had once been a house, at the blank cabin in which he had lived for four months sitting weathered and quiet in the sunlight. His face was quite grave, quite alert. “There’s something funny about this. If Kennedy thinks he can tromple on my rights, just because he wears a durn little tin star …” “Get on,” the deputy said. “If you don’t like the reward, I’ll be waiting to take you back to jail any time you want. Just any time you want.” He pushed Brown on, opening the cabin door and pushing him into it and closing the door behind him and sitting on the step. Brown heard the door close behind him. He was still moving forward. Then, in the midst of one of those quick, jerking, allembracing looks, as if his eyes could not wait to take in the room, he stopped dead still. Lena on the cot watched the white scar beside his mouth vanish completely, as if the ebb of blood behind it had snatched the scar in passing like a rag from a clothesline. She did not speak at all. She just lay there, propped on the pillows, watching him with her sober eyes in which there was nothing at all—joy, surprise, reproach, love—while over his face passed shock, astonishment, outrage, and then downright terror, each one mocking in turn at the telltale little white scar, while ceaselessly here and there about the empty room went his harried and desperate eyes. She watched him herd them by will, like two terrified beasts, and drive them up to meet her own. “Well, well,” he said. “Well, well, well. It’s Lena.” She watched him, holding his eyes up to hers like two beasts about to break, as if he knew that when they broke this time he would never catch them, turn them again, and that he himself would be lost. She could almost watch his mind casting this way and that, ceaseless, harried, terrified, seeking words which his voice, his tongue, could speak. “If it ain’t Lena. Yes, sir. So you got my message. Soon as I got here I sent you a message last month as soon as I got settled down and I thought it had got lost—It was a fellow I didn’t know what his name was but he said he would take— He didn’t look reliable but I had to trust him but I thought when I gave him the ten dollars for you to travel on that he …” His voice died somewhere behind his desperate eyes. Yet still she could watch his mind darting and darting as without pity, without anything at all, she watched him with her grave, unwinking, unbearable gaze, watched him fumble and flee and tack until at last all that remained in him of pride, of what sorry pride the desire for justification was, fled from him and left him naked. Then for the first time she spoke. Her voice was quiet, unruffled, cool. “Come over here,” she said. “Come on. I ain’t going to let him bite you.” When he moved he approached on tiptoe. She saw that, though she was now no longer watching him. She knew that just as she knew that he was now standing with a kind of clumsy and diffident awe above her and the sleeping child. But she knew that it was not at and because of the child. She knew that in that sense he had not even seen the child She could still see, feel, his mind darting and darting. He is going to make out like he was not afraid she thought. He will have no more shame than to lie about being afraid, just as he had no more shame than to be afraid because he lied. “Well, well,” he said. “So there it is, sho enough.” “Yes,” she said. “Will you set down?” The chair which Hightower had drawn up was still beside the cot. He had already remarked it. She had it all ready for me he thought. Again he cursed, soundless, badgered, furious. Them bastards. Them bastards But his face was quite smooth when he sat down. “Yes, sir. Here we are again. Same as I had planned it. I would have had it all fixed up ready for you, only I have been so busy lately. Which reminds me—” Again he made that abrupt, mulelike, backlooking movement of the head. She was not looking at him. She said 173

Light in August (William Faulkner,1932)  

Light in August (William Faulkner,1932)

Light in August (William Faulkner,1932)  

Light in August (William Faulkner,1932)

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